TIM Cone said finishing off an embattled Talk ‘N Text and advancing to the PBA Governors Cup Finals will require everything the Mixers got when they go for a three-game sweep on Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Mixers won the first two games of the series in contrasting fashion, pulling off a 92-88 overtime win in the opener before holding off a Talk 'N Text fightback in the fourth quarter of Game Two, 93-85.
However, the winningest coach in league history knows that Talk ‘N Text simply has too much pride to just roll over and die in Game Three beginning at 8 p.m.
“Again, we just have too much respect for Talk ‘N Text to think that we can just show up and win a series 3-0,” said Cone, who is eyeing his 29th Finals appearance since beginning his coaching career with Alaska in 1989.
“We’re playing an extremely well-coached and high-character team and it’s going to take everything we have to close out the series,” added Cone.
“Nothing comes easy in the PBA, especially against a team like TNT. We just have to be ready and compete.”
While Cone maintains a high respect for the Tropang Texters, the Mixers made their Game Two victory look so easy after dominating their bitter rivals from start to finish.
Joe Devance led San Mig’s fiery start that saw it lead by as much as 20 points, before letting Marqus Blakely and Mark Barroca provide the finishing kick to thwart Talk ‘N Text’s repeated rallies in the final period.
The Mixers’ game-long energy saw them dominate the boards, 55-44, and the block department, 12-4, while holding down their opponents to just 35.4 percent shooting from the field.
Norman Black is well aware that another slow start would be the beginning of the end for the Texters in the series, which is why the coach stressed the need to come out with a “special effort” come Game Three.
“It's do-or-die at this point, so we just need to win one game and then take it from there,” said Black, whose team lost to San Mig, 1-3 in the mid-season Commissioner’s Cup Finals.
“The SMC team is playing at a very high level and playing great team basketball on both ends of the court so it will take a special effort for us to beat them,” he added.
Locals Jason Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Nino Canaleta need to come out with a better offensive effort after combining to score just 29 points on 10-of-37 shooting from the field the last time.